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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

How Do You Define What Beauty Means For Yourself?

How Do You Define What Beauty Means For Yourself?

It might seem as though there are hard and fast definitions for certain life considerations, such as what ‘fashion’ means, or even what being ‘creative’ means. But that’s the thing, if everyone had the exact same definition for how a certain practice or theory related to them, then no creativity would take place.

Katharine Tate
Jan 11, 2022

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It might seem as though there are hard and fast definitions for certain life considerations, such as what ‘fashion’ means, or even what being ‘creative’ means. But that’s the thing, if everyone had the exact same definition for how a certain practice or theory related to them, then no creativity would take place.

It takes a visionary eye to see fashion and co-opt it for their own means, as is the case with the most stunning and appealing designers to come out of the industry. The same goes for figures in the beauty industry, such as our prior article on Richelieu Dennis.

How can you define what beauty means to you, then, and to what extent can that approach be levied in making beauty decisions that help you feel good, that improve your sense of self-care, and can help you avoid trying to fit a perfect artificial standard?

In this post, we’ll discuss some of these ideas and invite you to offer your own. This way, beauty can be as nuanced and accepting as fashion as become:

What Beauty Treatments Make You Feel Good?

It’s important to think about what beauty actually is. Some might define it as a means of optimizing your features so that you look and feel better, using a range of treatments or techniques to achieve that. But ultimately, beauty is freedom of expression. It’s the means by which you can feel that your true self can shine through, that you can adorn yourself with additions like makeup, or that you can preserve your best self through treatments like eyebrow threading or skincare.

Note that ‘looking good,’ often means feeling good. There’s no utility in looking your best while feeling utterly miserable or unhappy for doing so. For that reason, then, beauty should be about feeling good in yourself, in being able to express who you are, or in trying on a new look that helps you wear another aesthetic like a fun costume - for instance, think of fun artistic makeup you could wear for a special event.

So - what beauty treatments make you feel good? Asking and answering that question may not be as obvious as it first seems, but that doesn’t mean finding the answers is any less important. You can achieve this by simply trying new things. This is why, for instance, makeup influencers are so popular, as by showing new ‘looks’ they create, you can try them at home, even the more outlandish styles. An approach like that brings the fun and ‘could’ back into beauty, rather than the ‘should’ which feels constricting.

Expressing Yourself

Above, we have mentioned the desire to express yourself as an essential element in beauty treatments. This is becoming more true than ever. For instance, Rihanna’s makeup brand, Fenty Beauty, was among the first to bring foundation that actually matched the skin tone of those with beautiful, darker skin tones. Before, this was a vastly underserved market, which is a thorough shame.

It’s true, then, that when the ability to represent ourselves in beauty, and to apply us much or as little as we’d like works, then we can allow beauty to serve us rather than forcing a standard upon ourselves. Think about how for some, makeup means applying a traditional cultural styling that works for them, expressing their care in a manner that showcases who they are and where they come from.

For others, beauty expression may simply mean dying their hair once in a while in order to feel fresh and their best self. There are no rules here, and no examinations to pass, just an approach that helps you feel your best self from now going forward.

Values You Like To Support

It’s good to think of the kind of values we’d like to support and why. After all, beauty is an industry, not just a set of products, and for that reason our voting power is found in our wallets. For instance, cruelty-free, vegan makeup is becoming more and more popular, for obvious reasons. Many do not wish for animal products or testing in the products they utilize, because of its unethical effects.

While makeup and other beauty treatments are rarely perfectly sustainable and 100% eco-friendly, some brands are better than others. Additionally, you may wish to support local makeup brands rather than the larger corporations, or whatever beauty influencer is pushing out a partnered palette to play with. Or, perhaps you feel that influencer has achieved plenty of good by spreading awareness and love to their viewers, and you feel that supporting their initiative is important. That could work well, too. What matters is coming to your own sovereign decisions about how beauty influences your life, and how you’d like to influence the industry in return.

Don’t Self-Shame

It’s important not to self-shame as someone engaging in beauty treatments. Sometimes, an overbearing emphasis on ‘natural beauty’ can prevent you from trying more out-there makeup styles, in having perfectly functional dermal fillers for lips to enhance your look, or to consider body modification such as having a visible tattoo as a perfect adornment to your beauty regimen. Perhaps you’re a young boy who wants to try beauty treatments but isn’t sure if it’s meant for them (of course it is!)

If you’d like a treatment that is recommended and appropriate for you, then you deserve to go for that. Don’t feel as though you have to be part of someone elses’ beauty standard to feel properly catered for. You are the only person whose approval you should seek.

With this advice, we believe you can more readily understand what beauty means for yourself, from now into the future. After all - if beauty isn’t for you, then who is it for? The more we can set healthy expectations and support one another, the better we can thrive and allow beauty to become a wonderful supplement to our lifes, rather than an essential consideration we feel obligated to keep up with.

Katharine Tate | I’m a native of Massachusetts, where I earned bachelor's degrees in Health: Science, Society, and Policy and Sculpture from Brandeis University. I enjoy assisting and inspiring women in all aspects of their lives, and I consider myself a partner in their OB an GYN treatment. I particularly enjoy forming relationships with young women and assisting them in determining their healthcare needs and goals. I love to travel, create metal and fiber art, cook, and spend time outside. Also, I’m fluent in both German and American Sign Language.


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